Destination Wedding Belize
Laid-back and friendly, this tiny English-speaking Central American nation tucked beneath Mexico has become the quiet star of eco-adventure destinations. This nature-lover's Eden offers accommodations ranging from rustic (but comfortable) lodges to luxurious boutique resorts. Spend your days sunbathing on a tropical isle, or hole up in a jungle ecolodge and watch the howler monkeys playing in the forest canopy. Expect the proverbial midday 'tropical downpour' (which tend to end as dramatically as they begin) during the rainy season of June to October.
Wedding Requirements: Most resorts will guide you through the advance submission of the usual documents (certified copies of birth certificates and passports, etc.) and license fee ($100 if you're in the country for three days before the wedding, $250 for 24 hours before). A simple courthouse ceremony will set you back an additional five bucks. Ceremony sites include beaches, rainforests and even the splendor of ancient Mayan sites. (Apply in advance to the Institute of Archaeology to get permission.) For more information, visit
What to Do
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling: Sheltered by the world's second-longest barrier reef, Belize is prime territory for scuba buffs, snorkelers and warm-water lovers. Ambergris Caye, the chain's largest island, is the main destination for tourists, thanks to the funky beach-town of San Pedro. Here you'll find numerous intimate accommodations scattered across the small islets along the Caribbean coast. Sites like Hol-Chan Reserve, Turneffe Atoll and the world-famous Blue Hole are alive with corals, colorful fish, and sea turtles.
Rainforest: Canoeing jungle rivers, rappelling into massive cave systems or tubing on underground streams, your Belize adventure can get as wild as you want it. Mainland rainforests and waterways are home to jaguars, tapirs and crocodiles, as well as a myriad of colorful butterflies and tropical birds. Eco-lodges, many overlooking waterfalls or rivers, put you in the middle of it all and provide a convenient springboard for outdoor activities.
Mayan Ruins: Less touristy than in neighboring Mexico, Belize's archeological wonders awe visitors with their Indiana Jones-like jungle settings. Some impressive archeological sites are Altun Ha, where the largest Mayan jade carving ever discovered was found; Xunantunich, with a lofty pyramid offering vistas into neighboring Guatemala; and the remote lost city of Caracol, whose 'Caana' Temple remains the tallest man-made structure in Belize to this day.
Off the Beaten Path
Boating and Swimming: Departing from the settlement of Shipyard, take a speedboat up the narrow, winding New River through dense jungle to Belize's Mayan ruins, Lamanai. Wander among the majestic temples adorned with massive sculpture masks of the gods, then relax at the adjacent lodge with cocktails, a meal (try the johnnycake-like 'fry jack, ' covered with local Mayan honey) or a refreshing dip in the lovely, broad lagoon. (Don't worry, the crocs will keep to the opposite shore.)